Learning to Dream Again
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.” Jeremiah 1:5
At Kaya Children International, we work with children who have lived on the streets and children who live in extreme poverty. Children who live on the streets and in extreme poverty live an unstructured life. They worry about where they will find their next meal, and where they will sleep that night. Life on the street is dark, and children lose hope that things can get better. They do not dream about the future. When children arrive at Kaya, they respond quickly to questions like, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” or “What is your favorite color?” with “I don’t know” or “I don’t care”.
At Kaya, we work with children to heal and encourage them to dream again. This takes time and many small steps. As part of the process of healing, children at Kaya have the opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities. The children at Kaya attend many different classes including soccer, tumbling, break dancing, swimming, and flamenco dancing. These classes give the children structure, purpose, and something to look forward to. They also provide the opportunity for conversations about goals, dreams, hopes and the future.
Kaya helped Isabel, a girl who attends the Kaya Center, get a scholarship to attend a recognized flamenco dance school in La Paz. Isabel says, "I love going to flamenco classes. When I wake up on a day I have dance class, I’m thrilled. I prepare all my clothes, so I am ready to go to dance class after school and Kaya. I have many friends at flamenco class, and I love learning new steps because it is a way in which I can express myself." Thanks to this scholarship Isabel has found something to be passionate about and is forming goals for her future. "I want to dance flamenco until I´m an old lady. I am very grateful."
Attending a weekly art or sports class might seem like a small thing, but it is life changing for the children at Kaya. They become part of a group, and they begin to feel that their lives have purpose. They learn that if you work hard for something, you can get better and better at it, and it teaches them that their future can be different from their past. At Kaya, we know that every child is unique and should have the chance to develop and explore their own interests. It takes a very committed group of staff and volunteers to make sure each child gets to their classes, but at Kaya we know it is worth it as we watch children learn to dream again. What a joy to be part of children discovering God’s unique plan for their lives...one child at a time.
Written by Michelle Cazas and Hawley Harrigan. Posted March 9, 2016.